Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Cranky Corner: Movies on repeat

Don't you hate it when a network comes across a movie which rates pretty well, then decides to repeat it again and again and again? I do. All of the commercial networks are guilty of this- Nine and Ten mostly. Of course you get the movies they play at least once every year such as classics like The Castle, the whole Star Wars saga, The Back to the Future trilogy.... of course there are many more but they you get the idea. Then you get the more recent ones (2000 onwards) getting a run once every 3-12 months, these are your Bridget Jones, About a Boy, etc.
Here is an example- About a Boy is on this Friday the 29th of February. The last time it was on was the 4th of November 2007. This is just over 3 months between the two screenings! And the sad thing is is that people continue to watch these movies, which just encourages the networks.

TV08: The Start

Let's face it, the start of 2008 hasn't really been that exciting. Apart from a couple of shows such as SYTCYDTYDC or whatever it is and Underbelly, there haven't been any great breakthrough original shows. The networks have brought back the whole truckload of old American favourites. Let me remind you of all these shows that are hanging around.

The CSIs

The Law and Orders

All of the American shows like Lost, Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy and House.

And Apart from Underbelly and Dance, none of the new shows have failed to set the ratings alight such as Samantha Who, Burn Notice, Out of the Question, Terminator, Dirty Sexy Money and Monster House.

Seven has brought back its herd of cheap shows. They must be relieved that viewers are creeping back to them after a lack-lustre first week. I started to finally think that people had tired of all of Seven's rubbish but they have come crawling back.
Yes, all of those shows- RSPCA Animal Rescue, The Real Seachange, It Takes Two, The Force, Border Security, The Zoo and Bush Doctors are all making a comeback. Aren't we all tired of these shows yet? Obviously not.

The only hope is to look ahead. The next few days holds Newstopia, the only new Australian comedy at the moment. The next few weeks hold Rove, which should be good. And who knows when Steve Jacob's new show (anyone for another quiz show?) is coming.

This post wasn't meant to be a pessimistic rant, it was purely to tell the networks that they can do better. Everyone is itching for some fresh talent in some quality Australian shows. If you look back at the Chaser, even though they weren't exactly new talent, they were new to most people and look how well they went. Networks need to take some more risks- even though all these shows are still popular, they will not be able to prop up the networks forever. If Seven keeps flogging their docu-dramas and It Takes Two, viewers will tire of them (and they have already started to). If networks take risks, sure, 80% of the time they will fail, already with Monster House and Out of the Question but for the 20% which are succesful such as Dance, the said show can almost win entire nights for the network and can be milked for at least a couple of years.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Nine off to a flyer

Yes, that's right. Nine has won the first week. I don't really see how, but I am glad all the same. I cannot express how happy I am that Channel Seven lost the first week. It is the only network to not have a new Aussie show (and I don't include those cheap reality-docu-dramas as shows).
At least Nine and Ten were brave enough to take some risks and launch some new shows. So what if Nine's Chopping Block and Monster House didn't perform as well as hoped, at least Nine is showing that it is willing to try new Aussie shows. And of course we all know how well Ten's new show has paid off. But I bet that Ten is grateful that it decided to take the risk but at the same time dreading what will happen when the show ends. I mean, I don't want to look too far ahead but they haven't really got much, or any new Aussie shows up their sleeves. Big Brother and Australian Idol are the only two shows that they have. They will be hoping that they can change them enough again so that they can fool viewers that they are watching a different show. But I highly doubt any of those two will regain its Season 1/2 freshness and ratings.
Well back to the present and I hope Nine continues to win. We all went through that phase over the last three years when we loved the fact that Nine was losing and we cheered on Seven to thrash Nine with its new glossy American shows like Lost, Desperate Housewives, etc. But that was just because we had all got sick of Nine with its "old-fashioned" shows and tired personalities. But now we have started to come back to the familiarity of Nine with its gritty Aussie dramas and other new shows. I admit, it was good for a while with Channel Seven and its Dancing, singing and docu-dramas galore, but this week viewers showed they are starting to tire of the barrage of Border, Force, RSPCA, the Real Seachange and who knows what else. And to my delight, we are also tiring of It Takes Two, my least favourite show at the moment. Nine only won about two official weeks last year, so hopefully Nine winning the first week is a sign of good things to come.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Ratings Wrap

Well, Out of the Question continues to slide further, now to the 800 000s. Not good news for seven, but it is hardly surprising. I wonder how many more weeks it has got left in it. If it drops to 700 000 next week it could be its second last week. If it hovers around the 800 000s, it might have 1 or 2 weeks after that. At least another Aussie comedy, Good News Week was a bit funnier than Out of the Question but it didn't rate anywhere near Question's 1.3m debut.
The Chopping Block also improved its ratings a bit, which is good, because it is growing into an OK show. Hopefully Channel Nine is patient and leaves it to simmer for a bit.
And there was the whole Underbelly kerfuffle. If you ask me, Nine should have held off on Underbelly for all of the states not just Victoria. At least they have would eliminated downloading, etc. They also could have scored themselves the one of the first real big figures over the 2m mark for 2008. But it still rated OK I suppose. I'm suprised The Frasier and Debra show (or Back to You) rated so well because a) they gave away free DVDs with the episode in the paper and b) It was OK, but not really funny. Ramsay continues to perform. Saving Babies or Kids or Damien Leith continues to get average results. Lost isn't getting the 1m it deserves, only 800k seem to be still interested. And can I just say that I agree with David Knox of http://www.tvtonight.com.au/ that Two and a Half Men needs to be given the boot and Temptation needs to be brought back. Two and a half men is truly one of the worst American sitcoms I have ever seen. Womens Murder Club did well with 1.2m. I think that women will prefer that over the new Sex and the City Clones. Maybe because it looks a bit more intelligent and doesn't obsess over looks, etc. Like with Sex and the City #2 (Cashmere Mafia) and its tagline- "they're not desperate, they're fabulous!" Come on Channel Nine, that's shocking. Monster House got the bad number it deserved- around 700k. It had some OK ideas but some of the laughter was forced and unnatural. Terminator's 1m will only get worse. I have said before that it will be this year's Bionic Women- both remakes with tough female leads. It doesn't appeal to anyone- blokes don't watch it because of the female lead and women probably won't like it because of all of the action and sci-fi nonsense. Desperate Housewives and Dirty Sexy Money did OK too but overall, the only show which has been a real fresh, new hit has been So You Think You Can Dance. And thank god we have at least one great Australian show. Well, at least I can be happy that It Takes Who? has finally got a lower number- 1.3m. It is a stale show and I think we all have to realise that the bottom of the D-Grade Aus Celeb barrel has been not only scraped, but removed and thrown away and we are now down to the concrete underneath the barrel. I challenge the average TV viewer to name one show that at least 3 It Takes Who people are in. I only knew about three or four. Turn off your TVs at 7:30 to whatever time they stretch this drivel out to and we can finally tell Channel Seven to give us something new. A Year with the Royal Family I think will slide further below the current 1m. It is boring with a capital Z. On to next week.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Nine's first dud.

Nine's first official dud for 2008 has surfaced. And it was its first new show.
The Chopping Block premiered on Wenesday, a new reality/My Restaurant Rules/Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmare type show. It got about 700k viewers. Which is terrible, especially for a show which is a premiere and has been advertised to death. It is also Nine's first new show with its new old look.
But in saying all of this, my opinion of this show is that it was a poor version of Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares. The good points about it were that... Matt Moran was pretty good as the chef. He didn't need to go over the top like Ramsay to get his message across, but this was probably part of the problem. The only reason why people watch Ramsay's is for the conflicts and for Ramsay swearing his head off while criticising the chefs.
Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares got great ratings on Thursday night- 1m. This is great for a 9:30 show. Don't be surprised if Nine shifts it to 8:30. But back to The Chopping Block; the bad points(and there were many); the starting introduction dragged on for way too long, the restaurant critic was pushed to be too harsh on the restaurant owners and waiters- making fun of some waiter's appearance was not on, the fact that the show has tried to combine the reforming the restaurant with the competition aspect was a mistake. Also, Catriona Rowntree was not needed. Don't get me wrong, she is a good host of Getaway but a voice over would have been much better. Just look at Ramsay's- it doesn't have a host and it does just fine. Nine would have been better off making an Australian version of Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares and have Moran as the chef... just a thought. Well, don't expect this one to hang around for long. Channel Nine might give it a couple more weeks in this timeslot then replace it with Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares.

Seven's first dud

Well, Out of the Question's ratings on Thursday night were pretty terrible... but had to be expected. Last week it got 1.3m which isn't too bad but this weeks result of 997,000 is pretty bad.

The show was not that flash either. Probably because the producers made the mistake of keeping Fifi and getting rid of Ed Kavalee. They started off the show by re-using the same joke as last week (the complimenting Glenn for points joke). I lost interest after Fifi Box began to sing "I'm blue...". Anyway, it will eventually be axed... but it would be good if Seven could keep it longer, just to give it a chance... but I know that is a bit unreasonable, especially for a commercial network.
If they want a ratings boost, ditch the current panel and bring back Ed and they need someone like Hamish Blake or Julia Zemiro.
But I have named Out of the Question Seven's and 2008's first dud.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Progress Report

Well, I know its only early in the year but it the unofficial ratings season has just started and I would like to compare how each of the commercial networks have started off.

Channel Seven- Not a bad start… some of their shows that they have been promoting non-stop over summer have finally premiered. These include the Zoo (haven’t they already got an animal docu-drama?), Bush Doctors, Samantha Who and Out of the Question.
I am sick of talking about Out of the Question (my other posts have my opinions on this show) and we all know that its audience could have been better but we won’t dwell on that.
Bush Doctors did OK also with 1.2m, which appeared to be a cross between 7’s Medical Emergency and 9’s Royal Flying Doctor Service.
And the Zoo got off to a pretty good start with 1.3m.
Samantha Who got 1.3, which is good, but nothing like what Ugly Betty got this time last year (this mentioned in my other post).
Of course these aren’t huge numbers but against Ten’s biggest gun, So You Think You Can Dance, they did pretty well and Seven should be pretty happy with their start.

Channel Nine- Kicked off their batch of new shows with a A Year with the Royal Family. It came second in its timeslot to Dance and this was probably to be expected. It got better ratings than I thought it would- did Cate Blanchett’s voice-over make this show more popular than it could have been?... I doubt that it would have made a difference if someone else was doing it. I can’t really see viewers sticking around for a long time- I don’t think it will take long for people to get sick of watching the Queen and co.
Of course their C.S.I.s did well also, even though one was a repeat.

Channel (Network… sorry) Ten- Well, probably the best network of the three. It also has launched the two most talked about shows over the past couple of weeks. Dance and the Biggest Loser have done very well for Ten on Sunday and Monday.
Ten will be very happy that they finally have some hit shows, especially with their upcoming US shows in doubt. Dance got 1.8m then 1.6m… very good figures, and The Biggest Loser has kicked off with a strong start.
But is this a case of Ten putting its best two shows forward to cover up possible duds? We shall find out…

Monday, February 4, 2008

Samantha Who

Yes, I did have a look at Samantha Who, only because I wanted to see if there was anything there.
And it was everything I thought it would be- slightly predictable with a clumsy, ditsy lead character. It had a few funny lines and it is OK for a bit of light viewing but nothing which looks to be too memorable. It got around 1.2 million, which isn't that good, given it is the first new glossy American show. And remember Ugly Betty got about 2 million this time last year. And this show looks to become the next Ugly Betty, Seven promoted the hell out of it and it will eventually slip to the 1 million to 1.1 million mark when 60 minutes comes back. It is a fairly good idea for a show but how far can they stretch it?

Sunday, February 3, 2008

TV08:Australian Drama

2007 was also the year of the Australian drama revival. After years of networks plodding around trying to find a decent drama, there were two new dramas which stood up and got people's attention- Sea Patrol and City Homicide.
And in 2008, the only logical thing to do would be to produce more. So now we all know about Underbelly, which looks good and "gritty". If it succeeds it will be phenomenal and propel the Australian drama scene even further, but if it doesn't, which would suprise many, it would be made a laughing stock and be called Australia's bad attempt at the Sopranos.
There is also Packed to the Rafters, a dramedy which is probably going to be good family viewing, with Rebecca Gibney a well known face.
Sea Patrol is also back with a new name- Sea Patrol 2: The Coup and new faces- Alan Dale. It looks as if there wasn't enough explosions in the last series so Nine have decided to amp up the flashy factor and make it look more and more American. Either way, it will be costing them a fortune again so it better be worth it.
City Homicide is also back- not my cup of tea (not because I don't like the show, but because I dislike all cop-based dramas... except maybe Monk) but I know that lots of people like it. It should continue to thrive, given its ratings last season.
East of Everything is an ABC drama, I don't know much about it yet but hopefully it isn't too complicated and it builds up a following, then ABC can actually have a good Australian drama to be proud of.
Canal Road is a Nine drama which might have a harder time fitting in, given that it combines medicine and law, and viewers lately seem to prefer the simple formats but who knows, it could do good things for Australian drama by expanding the typical medical/cop/law genres.
And Channel Nine have stuck to the same sort of genres with Young Doctors. I don't know how they are going to compete with All Saints, now that it has found itself a little niche with dramatic "bomb" storylines. If Nine can steer in the complete opposite direction to All Saints, it could get a good audience.
And Ten, playing it safe once again has copped out with The Informant, a telemovie which it says may turn into a series if it performs well, which Ten will be hoping for, while its American drama pool will be drying up as the year progresses (if the strike isn't resolved).
And McLeods Daughters will return for its final season. Channel Nine decided to stop it after a lacklustre Season 7. Nine haven't treated it very well over the past couple of years, with an attempt to "sex" up McLeods, with those racy promos, and with Nine interrupting the season with other shows. And they still don't seem to care that much about it- the McLeods website is under the other "Other Shows" menu on the Nine website and they have't updated the McLeods website to the new logo and design which all the other new shows have.
Anyway, what's your opinion?

Saturday, February 2, 2008


Last year was the big game-show revival. We remember the over-hyped 1 vs 100 and Andrew O'Keefe's the Rich List. And there was even the so-so Contest... remember? Then there were the continuing ones- Bert's Family Feud, Deal or no Deal, Temptation, Who wants to be a Millionaire, National Bingo Night, Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader and The Singing Bee. Out of these only 3 are confirmed to air in 2008.
This means we will have to brace ourselves for another onslaught of flashy new game-shows.
Now, the biggest one is probably The Power of Ten hosted by Steve Jacobs. Steve is a pretty funny guy and the success of this show depends on whether or not it is too similar to Family Feud. Nine will probably try and place more influence on the comedy and less on the game-show itself, which is understandable, because the Nine thinks that we are all sick of your traditional Question-Answer shows. But I think that this show will do OK.
Of course there is Out of the Question, which I have talked about enough already.
The Moment of Truth is another attempt by Nine to obtain a fresh, successful game-show which hopefully generates a bit of controversy- as the American version did. It will be interesting to see who hosts this, because I think most people would be turned off by another Eddie McGuire show. How about some new talent... anyone?
Nine has also snapped up Hole in the Wall- based on a Japanese gameshow- my tip (and hope) is that Nine will come to its senses and scrap this idea before they become a laughing stock.
And that's all for the new game-shows. Of the returning ones, I think the Rich List and Deal or No Deal will continue along well, just as long as Andrew O'Keefe doesn't become too over-exposed and become a turn-off to viewers.
Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader will continue to do OK and hover around the 1m mark like it did last year.
Hopefully Temptation comes back, as it is a good show with no fancy frills or gimmicks like most of these other shows, and if you want to win, you have to have good general knowledge, not have to know what percentage of Australians drink milk from the carton.

The Top 5:People Who Deserve Bigger Roles

This is a list made up of the people I believe deserve bigger roles on TV. Some of these people already have a small role and some don't have a role at all but they are all great talents and deserve better.

#5. Wil Anderson deserves to have his own Glass-house type of show back again.
#4. Sonia Kruger deserves to be the host on DWTS- which I'm sure many people would agree on.
#3. Tony Martin deserves some sort of role on Aussie TV, whether it be as a writer, or even appearances on Spicks and Specks.
#2. Hamish and Andy deserve another crack at their own show... you only have to listen to their radio show to see how good it could be.
#1. Ed Kavalee also deserves his own Tonight show, but I have already mentioned this in my Out of The Question: Review post.

And some people I didn't mention do better in their smaller roles, such as Frank Woodley and Colin Lane in their appearances on Spicks and Specks, and Julia Zemiro is great as host of RocKwiz and we all saw what happened when she ventured to the dark side (commercial TV) last year. Who's in your Top 5?

Summer TV Awards

Well, this is pretty self-explanatory (and pretty pointless, because we all know that Summer TV was on the whole pretty bad), but anyway, here I go.

Best TV Show- 30 Rock- Great original new show which should have been given an earlier timeslot but I think is now returning in the ratings season.

Worst TV Show(s)- Too many to mention but all of the cheap reality shows such as Police
Ten 7, Borderline, Deadly Surf which are all imitations of their more successful counter-parts. Also all of those British shows such as Heart-Beat. And not forgetting Don't Forget the Lyrics, couldn't Network Ten rustle up any other drama or comedy?

Worst Decision by a network- Network Ten deciding to be different and be the only network to show an old show in the 7pm slot. Sure, Friends is not a terrible show but haven't we all seen the episodes before. At least Channel Nine showed new shows... even though they were both terrible.

Best Network- SBS wins this award for showing new episodes of all its best shows. They also showed new shows during the non-ratings season. To name a few of its shows- Top Gear, Mythbusters, Skins, Who Do You Think You Are, RocKwiz, East West 101 and Food Safari.
I may not be a fan of these shows but SBS has still done many people a favour by providing mostly Australian alternatives to other rubbish on commercial TV.

Most disliked Networks- Channel Nine and Channel Ten- for shifting around shows and yanking them off air at different times. I am mostly talking about The Big Bang Theory, The New Adventures of Old Christine and The Office. Channel Nine have to understand that if they want to build up viewer loyalty, they shouldn't take a show off the air four weeks into a season just because it is getting one or two hundred thousand less viewers than they would like. And if they really didn't want to show it in primetime then at least shove it in a 10:30 slot like Channel Seven. And Channel Ten really should know better.

What do you think?

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Top 5: Summer TV Shows

Now that the mostly terrible Summer TV is almost over, I have decided to name my Top 5 favourite shows from the Summer TV Season.

#5. Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares
#4. The Worst Christmas of My Life
#3. The Big Bang Theory
#2. Top Gear
#1. 30 Rock

The Top 5

This will be a regular feature on my blog. It will include the Top 5....... on Australian TV. For example- The Top 5 new '08 shows. These are of course my opinions but you can post yours.
#5. Pushing Daisies
#4. Reaper
#3.The Chopping Block
#2. So You Think You Can Dance
#1. Underbelly

Thursday:Ratings View

It is quite disappointing to see the ratings which the premiere of Out of the Question got. I mean, 1.17 million is not a terrible result but it isn't fantastic, given that it is a premiere. But it is a Thursday and it is out of ratings season. It also won its timeslot... which is quite good considering it was up against RPA. But Seven wouldn't be too happy given the large amount of advertising put into it.

If it can sustain this audience during the ratings season, I'd say Seven would keep it.

Meanwhile Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares continues to grow in popularity, which Channel Nine would be happy about, given that The Chopping Block is coming up. And The Chopping Block seems to be a very similar show to Ramsay's.

And not as many people want to watch Family Guy or "The Family Guy" as Glenn Robbins says.
This is probably due to a combination of the fact that most people have already watched the episodes on the internet and the fact that it is not as kid-friendly as the Simpsons. And what's with Channel Seven calling it "medium-tracked". Obviously now when it is not screened directly (or a week) after the US sees it is medium-tracked. But really, is it Seven trying to be funny, or trying to confuse us?